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Jiuzhou Zhao Completes Ph.D. in Polymer Science

Jiuzhou Zhao
Jiuzhou Zhao

After completing his Master’s degree at Akron University, Jiuzhou joined the UConn Polymer Ph.D. Program. Under the advisement of Professor Fotios Papadimitrakopoulos, he explored the world of polymer coatings, leading to his dissertation: “Layer-by-layer Assembled Polamide for Endogenous Redox-Active Interference Molecules Rejection”.

Jiuzhou returned home in China to begin a research and development position in the petroleum industry.

Congratulations Jiuzhao!

Chromogenic Identification of Breakdown

Professors Greg A. Sotzing and Pritish S. Aklujkar have been working with high temperature dielectrics used in high energy density capacitors. They are developing a new generation of all-organic polymer dielectric capacitors that can withstand high temperature conditions, eliminating the need for coolant systems. These capacitors will have a number of applications, including electric-vehicle charging stations and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch Systems (EMALS) used to catapult jets from aircraft carriers. Their paper, “Chromogenic Identification of Breakdown” was published in Nature Materials, February, 2, 2024. Visit Nature Materials to read the complete article.

Polymer Ph.D. Program Welcomes Vishwa Suthar and Hoang-Phuc Pham

Vishwa Suthar and Hoang-Phuc Pham.
Vishwa Suthar (left) and Hoang-Phuc Pham.

The IMS Polymer Program welcomed two incoming Ph.D. students this year, Vishwa Suthar and Hoang-Phuc Pham. Originally from western India, Vishwa Suthar came to the United States to complete her Master of Science degree at Pittsburg State University.  She joined the UConn Polymer Ph.D. Program beginning the Fall 2023 session. Originally from Vietnam, Hoang-Phuc Pham completed both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. He joined the UConn Polymer Ph.D. Program beginning the Spring 2024 session.

Chung-Hao Liu Completes his Polymer Ph.D.

Chung-Hao Liu
Chung-Hao Liu

After completing his BS and MS in Taiwan, Chung-Hao Liu came to the US to join UConn’s Polymer Ph.D. Program.  He worked under the guidance of Prof. Mu-Ping Nieh to learn the principles of self-assembly and  structural characterization using neutron, x-ray, and light scattering.  Chung-Hao was a productive student in scientific output with 3 lead-author, and 14 coauthored publications in prestigious peer-reviewed journals (including Journal of American Chemical Society, Angewandte Chemie, Advanced Functional Materials, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Nanoscale, Macromolecules, ACS Macro Letters, etc.) and more to come.

Reflecting on his experience at UConn, Chung-Hao says he loved the collaborative nature of the Institute of Materials Science with both faculty and students. The interdisciplinary research projects allowed him to speak with chemists and engineers from various backgrounds. He also noted that faculty were always open to providing help whenever he encountered problems.  Chung-Hao also enjoyed freedom in research the pursuit of research projects without being micromanaged.

Chung-Hao completed his dissertation defense, “Encapsulation and Polymerization in the Fluid Phase of a Well-Defined Bicellar Template,” in spring 2023 and has started his new journey as a postdoctoral scientist in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, in July 2023.

Amy Pollock Receives Future Climate Venture Studio Fellowship

Ph.D. Material Science student, Amy Pollock
Ph.D. Material Science student, Amy Pollock

UConn’s Future Climate Venture Studio has created a fellowship program designed to provide tangible experiences for students interested in learning in start-ups, marketing, commercialization, venture development, and research around climate change. Materials Science PhD. student, Amy Pollock, is one of three UConn graduate students to receive the fellowship. Fellows were selected for their excellent writing skills, science, technical, or business background, interest in the entrepreneurial process, interest in addressing climate change, and their ability to work independently and handle confidential material. The program partners each student with 2 start-up companies that need advice and/or assistance within a specific discipline. This enables the companies to have access to scientist working in their field while the students gain insight regarding the many challenges of creating and maintaining a startup company. The program is one more example of UConn’s support of entrepreneurship for both students as well as faculty.

Amy will be working with the following companies:

  • Peat (formally, “Afterlife”) – [eliminating food waste]: https://www.peatfarming.com/
  • Homeostasis – [Carbon removal & utilization]: https://www.homeostasis.earth/

Details regarding the Future Climate Venture Studio and the fellowship can be found at: https://www.futureclimateventurestudio.com/

Polymer Program Student Receives Henkel Internship

duttaPolymer Ph.D. student, Abhirup Dutta, received an internship with Henkel Corporation during the summer of 2021. He worked in product development R&D with their adhesives team performing synthesis, formulation, and application testing of novel isocyanate free polyurethane based reactive hot-melt adhesives for engineered wood applications.

Abhirup states the overall experience was a great exposure to research and development of industrial significant materials like adhesives and coatings. It provided the opportunity to apply fundamentals of polymer chemistry to materials development while meeting product and cost requirements. This experience helped him better prepare for a materials/polymer scientist role in industry.

Henkel, an international chemical corporation, has offered internships and employment of many UConn alumni in past years. While they have a production plant and offices in Connecticut, Abhirup was in the Bridgewater, NJ facility.

Abhirup found the internship on the Handshake job portal, managed by UConn’s Center for Career Development.  https://career.uconn.edu/resources/handshake/

Dr. Ying Li is “Targeting Tumors with Nanoworms”

Dr. Ying LiDr. Ying Li is using computers and artificial intelligence to improve delivery of nanomedicines to tumors.  “A lot of medicines involve intravenous injections of drug carriers,” said Ying Li, an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Connecticut. “We want them to be able to circulate and find the right place at the right time and to release the right amount of drugs to safely protect us. If you make mistakes, there can be terrible size-effects.”

Dr. Li’s research is featured in an story from the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas Austin.  Read the complete article from Texas Advanced Computing Center.

Stephen Ekatan Completes Polymer Ph.D.

Dr. Stephen Ekatan
Dr. Stephen Ekatan

Dr. Stephen Ekatan completed his final dissertation, Material Properties of Complex Synthetic Macromolecules Containing Secondary Structures, in January 2021 under the advisement of Professor of Chemistry Dr. Yao Lin.

As a researcher who values the application of science, and desires to make positive contributions during his career, Dr. Ekatan has accepted a position with Nel Hydrogen, a global, dedicated hydrogen company, delivering optimal solutions to produce, store and distribute hydrogen from renewable energy. In his new role as process engineer at Nel Hydrogen, Stephen will focus on the development of coating technologies for membrane electrode assemblies used in water electrolysis to generate hydrogen.

Reflecting on his time in the IMS Polymer Program, Steve says that one of the most important skills he has developed is the ability to look at the “big picture” and examine how various areas of research intertwine, leading to new achievements in science and industry.

Dr. Jeffrey McCutcheon to be Inducted into CASE

Dr. Jeffrey McCutcheon
Dr. Jeffrey McCutcheon will be inducted into the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering on May 27.

Dr. Jeffrey R. McCutcheon, Professor and Executive Director, Fraunhofer USA Center for Energy Innovation; Al Geib Professor of Environmental Engineering Research and Education, UConn School of Engineering has been announced as an inductee in the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) for 2021.

Dr. McCutcheon joined UConn in 2008, after receiving his Ph.D. from Yale University in 2007. He was selected to receive the Dupont Young Professor award in 2013, one of only 14 professors worldwide to receive the honor. In 2019, as an internationally recognized expert in membrane technologies for sustainable water and energy production, Dr. McCutcheon was chosen to lead UConn’s participation in the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI), a research consortium awarded a five-year, $100-million Energy-Water Desalination Hub to address water security issues in the United States.

In 2020, McCutcheon lead a team developing a prototype of an emergency ventilator that could be produced by Connecticut manufacturers to help ease anticipated shortage of the devices as the novel coronavirus continued to spread across the state.

Election to the Academy is based on the applicant’s scientific and engineering distinctions, achieved through significant contributions in the form of publications, patents, outstanding leadership, and other factors.

New inductees are scheduled to be honored at the Academy’s 46th Annual Meeting that will be held virtually on May 27, 2021

Yanliu Dang Completes Degree in Materials Science

Dr. Yanliu Dang
Dr. Yanliu Dang

While completing her Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering & Technology at the Beijing Institute of Technology, Yanliu Dang discovered her research area of interest, materials and catalysis. When searching for doctoral programs, she decided to come to the US in order to learn about American culture and explore research opportunities not available in China. She singled out UConn to study under the guides of one of the world’s leaders in catalysis, Prof. Steven Suib.

Her studies in catalysis at UConn led to her dissertation defense, “Design, Synthesis, and Characterization of Metal Oxide/Phosphide-Based Catalysts for Energy Applications”

In addition to catalysis, Yanliu stated that she gained significant knowledge in microscopy and material characterization. She was very grateful to have the opportunity to work on advanced instruments at UConn: Titan Themis TEM, Dual Beam FIB, and XPS to study materials and catalytic mechanisms.

Yanliu’s paper, Constructing Bifunctional 3D Holey and Ultrathin CoP Nanosheets for Efficient Overall Water Splitting, was published in July 25, 2019. Her paper, Partial Reduction of Ruthenium Oxide as Efficient and pH-Universal Electrocatalysts for Hydrogen Evolution, is currently under review. Her third paper, Self-standing Ruthenium Oxide Nanocomposite for Regenerable Electrocatalyst in Seawater Splitting, is around the corner.